Chevy’s pony turns 50 this week. Let’s have a party.
Amazingly, the Mustang and the Camaro are still battling neck and neck for the crown of “America’s Muscle Car.” This rivalry has to be the coolest story in the history of American car building. Here, we look back at the birth of the Camaro, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this week. It all started with the first pilot prototype (No. 10001), which rolled off the assembly line on May 21, 1966, at the General Motors Assembly Plant in Norwood, Ohio. The Historic Vehicle Association is throwing the Camaro a birthday party. Here’s some amazing facts about the Camaro, courtesy of the HVA. . .
- GM was tight-lipped about the Camaro. Few car fans knew anything about it before it was formally introduced in Detroit in August 1966—over two years after the Mustang appeared. Thus inaugurated the pony car wars, which are still raging today.
- The Camaro almost wasn’t the car’s name, according to the HVA. Rival names included Commander and Wildcat. GM even spent over $100,000 on Panther badges, anticipating that Panther would be the car’s name, only to pull a switcheroo. Camaro it would be.
- GM sold over 400,000 Camaros in the first two years. Those weren’t Mustang numbers, but they were pretty hot indeed.
- According to the HVA, Hagerty—the nation’s largest insurer of classic cars—ranks the Camaro as third in overall popularity among collectors. Which cars are ahead? The Corvette (#1) and the Mustang (#2).
- Amazingly, the first pilot prototype Camaro (No. 10001), pictured here, still exists. The HVA is currently in the process of adding this wonderful machine to its National Historic Vehicle Register. The car will be on display for its 50th anniversary, at the Woodward Dream Cruise the week of August 13-20. See you there!